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www.corpun.com   :  Archive   :  2002   :  US Schools Jan 2002

-- THE ARCHIVE --


UNITED STATES

School CP - January 2002



The Nashville Tennessean, 6 January 2002

Metro may abolish school spanking

By Diane Long
Staff Writer

Metro educators could be putting away their paddles forever if school board members vote Tuesday night to abolish corporal punishment.

It's a move in sync with national trends, but some Metro teachers are fuming that they'll lose a method to keep order and control in the classroom.

"Most teachers don't use corporal punishment unless it's the last straw," said Cindy Madison, a second-grade teacher at Rosebank Elementary. "It's the last option anyway, but there are just some times when that last option makes a difference."

The recommendation to eliminate spankings comes from a committee of nine principals and administrators who studied the issue after Schools Director Pedro Garcia floated the idea in August.

It was an easy decision after the committee looked at spanking data, said Aldorothy Wright, assistant superintendent for student services and chairwoman of the committee.

Paddlings had declined from 16,415 incidents about a decade ago to 1,084 last year in the 70,000-student district. And the statistics showed that far more black students were paddled last year than their white counterparts.

"Everybody was in agreement," Wright said. "Most schools had found a way to deal with inappropriate behavior without the use of corporal punishment."

The school board has not discussed the issue in session, but board member Kathleen Harkey has some definite ideas on the subject.

"I have never liked it and have always been in favor of abolishing corporal punishment," Harkey said. "I realize that many children come from homes where they've not been taught self-discipline; they don't see self-discipline in their parents or guardians, and they are physically struck at home.

"But as a school system, we don't want to model that behavior. ... It's just time for us as a school system to become much more sophisticated in how we handle children who don't want to follow the rules."

That's just the thinking of parent Marsha Warden.

"I am not personally opposed to it, (but) it's something I prefer to handle with my own children," Warden said. "I think schools are more effective if they don't have to resort to corporal punishment. If children are seeing school in a very punitive light, they're not going to be invested in staying and doing well."

But parent Alisha Greer worries that kids might be even wilder in the classroom if they know they can't be spanked.

"I think it would (be) OK to keep corporal punishment," she said.

"A lot of times, the kids know that the teachers can't punish them. Then they tend to take advantage. If that comes out, it could be a problem."

Sonnye Dixon, who's active in educational issues across the city, doesn't agree.

"Just the striking of kids doesn't solve anything and, I am convinced, just continues to add more frustration and complicates problems we already have within the system," Dixon said.

"You end up finding ... the victims of corporal punishment being those kids that are already in violent situations in their homes and their communities. There's no way to measure how you inflict pain, and I don't think in any situation it has been beneficial."

Nationwide, more educators are turning away from corporal punishment, with 28 states outlawing the practice so far. Spankings are OK under Tennessee law, but school districts can exclude the practice in their discipline policies.

Most Midstate systems allow educators to paddle, but the Franklin city district did away with the practice in 1998 and the Murfreesboro city district banned it early in 2001. In Metro, parents can opt their children out of corporal punishment by signing a form at the beginning of the school year.

At least 17 major national organizations, including the National Education Association, have endorsed the ban of corporal punishment. Locally, the Metro Nashville Education Association is backing the recommendation - with a caveat.

"Our position at MNEA is consistent with NEA's position that corporal punishment is not the best method of discipline, and that we are probably now to the point in Nashville where we probably can abolish it," said MNEA President Harry McMackin.

"But if this tool is taken away from teachers and principals, something else has to be put in its place," he said. "It is not sufficient to simply remove this tool and do nothing."

The committee recommendation includes suggestions about new options, including more training for teachers in classroom management, training for parents to better discipline their children at home and staffing schools with behavioral specialists, who are certified to deal with disruptive students. But those moves have yet to begin, leaving a gap that worries Rosebank teacher Madison.

"Before they take this option away, there should at least be another plan in place so that we're not just stuck out there floundering," she said. Still, she would prefer to keep her paddle.

"I think if they talk to more teachers, they would really find out that a lot of times, it does help, and if it's not going to help, the teachers are not going to waste their time to do it anyway," she said.

Rosebank teacher John Yount sees the ban as an intrusion on discipline options because Metro already allows parents to nix corporal punishment.

"To take away something that the parents and teachers agree is a viable option ... talk about micromanaging," Yount said.

Yount often deals with parents who see spanking as their best option, including single parents who must miss work if their child is suspended from school.

"A parent told me today ... 'It's unfair to take away an option that leaves me having to choose between staying at home or leaving my child alone,'" he said Friday.

Some Metro schools already have taken the plunge into paddle-free discipline, including Jere Baxter Middle School, where Principal Everett Hanner and his staff brainstormed some creative alternatives last fall.

Their plan is based on a signed pact listing the rules of proper behavior for everyone. For example, teachers vow to show respect for each child and for his or her family; parents pledge to show respect for their child, the teachers and the school; and students promise to be kind and helpful to classmates.

Students who break the pact spend part of the day completing their schoolwork. But they also are assigned to the school's custodian, who makes sure they put in some physical labor, including cleaning the halls and bathrooms.

"It's sort of like community service," Hanner said. "They're having to work off their time, but they're still doing their schoolwork."

And the cleaning chores can be a real deterrent.

"They don't want to, especially having their classmates seeing them do it," Hanner said.

Copyright 2002 The Tennessean



The Nashville Tennessean, 8 January 2002

Editorial

Abolish school spankings

When a school official spanks a child, both have failed.

The child has failed to comply with school rules. And the teacher or the principal has failed to find a more appropriate, less scarring form of discipline.

The Metro Board of Education should not hesitate to adopt the recommendation from a nine-member committee that calls for the removal of spanking as a form of discipline.

Under current Metro policy, parents have the option to say their children cannot be subjected to corporal punishment. Otherwise, educators have great discretion about whether, when and whom to spank.

This topic has been raised many times over the years both at the state level by the General Assembly as well as in local school boards. Nationally, various groups, including the National Education Association, have called for an end to corporal punishment. Twenty-eight states have abolished the practice.

Yet there are still some voices - parents as well as educators - who maintain that teachers need every option they can muster in trying to maintain discipline. And there are still those who maintain that a swat on the rear can be effective in getting a child's attention.

But the issue isn't whether spanking is an effective form of punishment. Parents who believe in spanking are free to practice it at home.

Instead, the issue before the school board is whether educators should resort to corporal punishment. To children, school is government, and educators are authority figures. The only possible lessons they can take away from a pro-spanking policy are that might makes right and that physical aggressiveness is acceptable.

If the no-spank policy is adopted, Metro will need to help educators find options to replace the paddle. The board, however, should be bolstered by the knowledge that school systems throughout the nation and the world have maintained discipline through means that are neither violent nor humiliating. So can Metro. 

Copyright 2002 The Tennessean



Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN, 10 January 2002

Paddling is out in Nashville schools

By Amber McDowell
The Associated Press

NASHVILLE - School board members have voted to prohibit paddling of Nashville students, becoming one of just a handful of Tennessee systems to officially ban corporal punishment, according to the director of a private group that monitors discipline in state schools.

Dr. Terry Kopansky, a Nashville principal and founder of Tennesseans for Nonviolent School Discipline, said the decision Tuesday puts the system in line with many major school districts across the country and 28 states that enforce similar bans.

"It's been a long time coming," Kopansky said. "It keeps with what virtually all education and psychology, legal and medical organizations across the country have advocated. It's an important step."

The board's vote was unanimous. Several parents at the meeting opposed the change, including Linda Cook, who told board members the ban would "encourage our children to get into more trouble."

The threat of paddling "makes them think twice about what they're doing," she said. "A lot of our kids have attitudes, and that's what needs a whipping."

Nashville joins systems in Murfreesboro, Maryville and Knoxville that have either a ban or a partial ban on paddling as punishment, a position Kopansky says is somewhat out of step in the South.

"Changing a custom so deeply rooted in Southern culture is difficult," he said. "You hear parents say, 'I got paddled and I turned out OK.'"

School officials defended the practice in counties where corporal punishment continues to be used as a disciplinary method.

Lauderdale County Supt. Dr. Bobby Webb, said, "What we're doing is trying to change behavior of students; paddling is something we keep as a last resort."

Of the 23 states that still allow corporal punishment, Tennessee ranks fourth with 4 percent of the state's almost 900,000 students receiving paddlings, according to July 2000 data from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.

Mississippi led the nation with just more than 10 percent of students receiving corporal punishment, followed by Arkansas (9.2 percent) and Alabama (6.3 percent).

Kopansky attributes the Nashville ban to Supt. Pedro Garcia, who came from the Corona-Norco Unified School District some 60 miles from Los Angeles.

Copyright 2002, GoMemphis. All Rights Reserved.




Daily Times, Maryville, TN, 11 January 2002

Blount schools ahead of state on paddling stance

By Joel Davis
Of The Daily Times Staff

Unlike most of the state, paddling is a forgotten custom in local schools.

Blount County's three public school systems are ahead of the curve when it comes to using alternatives to paddling.

The Nashville School Board made news statewide on Tuesday with a decision to ban corporal punishment in city schools.

This isn't anything new in Blount County. No local school system still employs paddling to enforce discipline, according to officials.

Blount County Director of Schools Alvin Hord said the Board of Education prohibited corporal punishment in 1996.

The system now uses a variety of methods, from life-skill and character education to suspension, to prevent discipline problems, Coordinator of Alternative Programs Steve Moser said.

"There's not an ABC formula that works with every child," Moser said.

This year, both Blount County high schools and the alternative school are offering anger management classes as well.

Alternatives found

Paddling is no longer used in Maryville City Schools.

"The fact is none of our principals use paddling as a form of disciplinary action any more," Director of Schools Mike Dalton said. "We've never completely banned it, but in essence it's no longer being used in the city of Maryville.

"We've been able to find other alternative types of disciplinary measures that we think has been just as effective and have not had any major problems with that."

These measures include short-term isolation for elementary school students and in- and out-of-school suspension programs.

Alcoa Director of Schools Jane Qualls said she prohibits paddling by administrative policy "because of all the research that shows paddling is not an effective means of changing behavior."

........

Along the Tennessee-Arkansas border, school officials in Lauderdale and Tipton counties say they continue to use corporal punishment as a disciplinary method.

"The policy is just used as last resort, not repeated continually," said Lauderdale County Superintendent Dr. Bobby Webb. "What we're doing is trying to change behavior of students; paddling is something we keep as a last resort."

......

The Associated Press contributed to this report.




The Nashville Tennessean, 12 January 2002

Letters to the Editor

Leave paddling up to individual teachers

To the Editor:

The decision to end paddling in Davidson County is a big mistake. The very fact that a school board of non-educators who do not have to work directly with students can tell underpaid teachers that they can't discipline their students by paddling is an outrage.

Late last year the school board complained that there were too many suspensions being handed out. What does the board expect teachers to do? Why would any prospective teacher dare to apply for a job in Metro?

Also, the students will suffer from this move in the long run. How can we expect them to make positive contributions to society when they are being taught that there are no consequences for their actions?

I wish the best for the Metro school system, but I doubt its prospects for the future. Discipline is necessary and should remain a part of education.

I'm reminded of what Principal Joe Clark said in the movie Lean On Me: "Discipline is not the enemy of enthusiasm."

Jason Rowlett

Smyrna 37167

Copyright 2002 The Tennessean



The Nashville Tennessean, 13 January 2002

Letters to the Editor

Spanking ban will be beneficial to kids

To the Editor:

I applaud the decision of the Metro school board to eliminate the practice of spanking at school. Change is rough and often unpopular, but this change is one that will produce great results. The parents who supported spanking deserve respect for speaking their minds and voicing their views. My guess is that their children are not the ones whose lives will change as a result of this decision. My guess is that their children are not the ones targeted when a teacher needs to make an example of one student in order to regain control of an entire class. Hopefully, our school board will follow this decision with others which reward our children for doing the right thing, and which encourage them to become contributing, fearless members of society.

Ann Charvat

Nashville 37212

Copyright 2002 The Tennessean



The Nashville Tennessean, 14 January 2002

Use of term will include all abuse

To The Editor:

There is an old saying that "he who defines the terms wins the argument." If you define your words carefully enough you might actually be able to convince someone that right is wrong and bad is good.

In Melissa Lamb's Jan. 10 letter, she re-defined paddling/spanking as simply "hitting." Why? Because the broader term "hit" can be used to include not only traditional paddlings and spankings but unmerciful beatings as well. The obvious desire is to make both terms synonymous in the reader's mind so that the specter of child abuse is created each time the word "spanking" or "paddling" is used. Of course, in order to do this one has to cease being rational and ignore the majority of adults who were spanked and paddled as children and grew up to be well adjusted, productive, non-abusive members of society.

Yet, why should we be bothered by common sense and reasoning when we can simply follow the Pied Piper into the river and keep telling ourselves black is white and right is wrong.

Darrell Massie

White House 37188

Copyright 2002 The Tennessean




Lake City Reporter, Florida, 18 January 2002

Tuck those shirts in

Dress code prevents boys' sagging pants

By Tony Britt
Lake City Reporter

(extracts)

Loose, baggy, sagging pants not worn on the waist or hips will no longer be tolerated at Richardson Middle School.

A new dress code policy for boys calls for boys' pants to be worn around the waist with a belt and for shirts to be tucked into the pants.

Richardson Middle School Principal Bobby Simmons said students were first told about the new dress code policy during the two weeks before Christmas vacation.

"Our basic thing was pants at the waist and belts on because we just got tired of seeing some sloppy kids exposing themselves and their undergarments to the point where enough was enough," he said. "We're not suppressing kids, we're just wanting them to look good, be neat and take pride in that."

Simmons said the pants on the waist has been a school board policy for years, but it has not been strictly enforced. He said with the recent trend in school violence clothing like big long shirts or things that hang outside the trousers are good ways to hide or make weapon detection difficult. That is not the reason for the change at Richardson.

"We want our kids to look good and look neat like most parents do," he said.

Simmons said some students and parents say the policy is not fair and some just won't adhere.

"It's just been amazing to me the number of students who claim they don't have a belt," he said.

School officials are not trying to infringe on students' rights, but they have ample opportunity to wear that clothing on weekends and away from school.

..................

Dress code violations are subject to disciplinary actions as outlined in the Code of Student Conduct booklet, issued to students at the beginning of the year.

Listed as a class II offense in the student conduct booklet, secondary students who violate the dress code face parent conferences and/or in-school suspension, extended work assignments before or after school and possibly suspension for 1-5 days.

Subsequent offenses may result in special detention time, extended work assignments and suspension for 1-10 days, as well as possible corporal punishment.

For elementary students, the Code of Conducts says for first and second offenses, parents may be contacted and or disciplinary actions taken, including possible corporal punishment and in-school suspension.

Subsequent offenses could merit special detention time, extended work assignments before or after school, suspension (in or out of school for 1-5 days) and possibly corporal punishment.




Valdosta Daily Times, Georgia, 20 January 2002

Corporal punishment suggested at Lanier BOE board meeting

By Marie Arrington

(extract)

LANIER COUNTY - During the Lanier County School Board's meeting on Monday, Phillip Connell suggested that the board consider revising the discipline policy, thereby allowing corporal punishment back into the schools.

Connell also said he'd like to eliminate the current In School Suspension program.

Superintendent Mark Petersen voiced concerns about the issue, saying that there are other ways besides corporal punishment to solve discipline problems. Although Lowndes County Schools, according to the 2001-2002 student handbook, allows corporal punishment, Valdosta City Schools do not.

[...]



blob Follow-up: 12 May 2005 - Lanier County BOE adopts corporal punishment policy


Atlanta Journal and Constitution, GA, 26 January 2002

Law & Order

Police probe charge of abuse at school

From staff and wire reports

DeKalb County police are investigating an abuse claim by the parent of a student that attends The Shepherd's Training Academy, said DeKalb County police spokeswoman Lt. Pam Kunz. The parent claimed the student was spanked too hard. An officer went to the private school campus in Doraville Friday but could not find any signs of physical abuse, Kunz said. Parents must sign forms allowing the school to use corporal punishment on students but it was not clear whether school officials crossed the line from corporal punishment to abuse, Kunz said.




Detroit News, Michigan, 27 January 2002

We ask teachers to maintain school order, but give them too few tools

By Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Nolan Finley

Here's how my mother introduced me to my kindergarten teacher: "This is Nolan; beat him if you need to."

From then on, the first thing I did on opening day of a new school year was to scan the classroom for the paddle. If it had its own peg on the wall, and if the teacher had personalized it in any way -- like drilling holes in the flat part -- or had given it a cutesy name or, worse, required its victims to sign it, I knew I was in trouble.

A paddling was only a shade worse than spending the day in the hallway with my nose pressed against a locker, or having my mouth stuffed full of paper and taped shut, or taking a bite of that nasty gray soap.

I'm not a big fan of corporal punishment and can't say for sure that it ever did me much good. But it may have given my teachers some relief.

Anita Lienert reports elsewhere on this page about legislative efforts to block teachers from suggesting a disruptive child be tested for attention deficit disorder and placed on Ritalin. Some lawmakers are alarmed at the sharp increase in Ritalin use and suspect teachers may be using attention deficit disorder (ADD) as an excuse to subdue unruly children with medication.

Tragic, if true. But as long as we've raised the subject, maybe we should take an honest look at what teachers are up against in maintaining an orderly classroom. Over the years, we've stripped them of nearly every disciplinary tool. No paddling. No shouting. No dunce cap. And little help from parents.

We send them children lacking even the most remedial behavior skills. Raised in homes where they're the center of the universe, they've never been made to sit down, shut up and listen -- the building blocks of learning.

A teacher who bruises a child's feelings invites an angry visit from parents who have their attorney's phone number on speed dial. Teachers walk on eggshells around classrooms crammed to the bursting point with old-fashioned brats.

But when test scores lag, all fingers point at the teachers. No one suggests parents should share the blame.

I always knew where I stood in school. The teacher and my parents were on one team, and I was on another. The interest on every swat I got at school compounded during the day and paid off with two swats that night -- if my parents found out.

The only time I got lucky was the day my friend Bob and I were hauled out of Spanish class. Bob started sobbing in the principal's waiting room -- "When I tell my mom, she's going to kill me." That he was crying in public shocked me less than his plan to confess.

"What's he bawling about? I haven't hit him yet," the principal snarled as he dragged Bob away. He gave him five roundhouse swats while I sat in the next room listening in terror. But the principal spent himself on Bob, and when my turn came, he gave me only two half-hearted whacks.

I caught up to Bob limping down the hallway. "How many?" he sniffled. "He wore me out," I lied. "Five hard ones." And since I was already fibbing, I threw in another whopper just to encourage his self-destructive plan: "But I'm only telling my mom I got two."

I managed to get through school without Ritalin. But I wouldn't be surprised if some of my teachers took to the bottle to get through me.

Nolan Finley is editorial page editor of The Detroit News.




WRTV Indianapolis, 31 January 2002

Parents: Principal In Trouble Because She Didn't Favor Paddling

An elementary school principal who allegedly is under pressure because she refused to paddle a student said this week that she'll fight for her job.

Maria Manzola-Roberts, principal of Taylor Primary School for three years, said she wants to rescind the resignation letter she sent to the school board in December.

Manzola-Roberts said she offered her resignation because the superintendent told her the board wasn't happy with her -- even though test scores at the school have risen under her leadership.

She changed her mind when parents and educators spoke up in her favor.

"The reason that I rescinded my resignation is that I didn't realize (before) how much support I had from the parents and the teachers, and especially the students," Manzola-Roberts said.

Parents told RTV6 that the board was upset with Manzola-Roberts because she wouldn't discipline a student by paddling.

Neither Manzola-Roberts nor Superintendent Ron Mayes would address the paddling-refusal allegation. Mayes, however, said student discipline in general was one of the issues discussed by the board.

Mayes also said the board had problems with "community issues, communication issues, cooperation with the board -- those kind of things -- not necessarily academic issues."

Mayes said the board may not allow Manzola-Roberts to rescind her resignation. He said the issue may be discussed at the board's next meeting on Feb. 12.



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